Best Ice Cream Maker (2023 UK Review)
For almost 1,500 years mankind has enjoyed a form of ice cream. The earliest recorded ice cream-like foods were sold on mediaeval markets in the middle east and were made from snow collected in the mountains flavoured with syrup. Thankfully we live in an era where we don’t need to trek way up into the mountains to obtain ice to make this delicious dessert.
What Makes Ice Cream So Creamy?
The ingredients of ice cream haven’t changed much from those early “Sharbats” sold in middle eastern markets. Ice cream consists of water, sugar and fat that’s aerated and frozen. As it freezes, ice crystals form and to make great ice cream, those crystals have to be as small as possible. So small in fact, that they can’t be felt at all.
It’s the technique of creating ice crystals so small that ice cream has that creamy texture that takes a skill learned over many years, or an ice cream maker.
How Do Ice Cream Makers Work?
There are two types of ice cream maker available on today’s market. Which are;
- Self Freezing Ice Cream Makers
These contain a freezer compressor which means you have to allow time for the creamy mixture to freeze. They tend to be big and bulky, and expensive.
- Freeze First Ice Cream Makers
These have a twin walled bowl which is filled with a refrigerant and is frozen first before the ice cream is made in the bowl. This type is far cheaper to buy and as long as you store the bowl in the freezer, can make ice cream far quicker than the self freezing type. The downside is, the bowl needs to be frozen to a temperature of -18C (-0.4 F) and as it takes such a long time to reach that low temperature, you’ll be limited to one bowl per day.
What Are The Benefits Of An Ice Cream Maker?
- You Are In Control Of All Ingredients
Whether you or another member of the family has any food allergies, or you just don’t like the idea of food additives, making your own ice cream in an ice cream maker allows you full control of all the ingredients.
- You Can Make Healthier Ice Cream
We are all fans of ice cream, but it’s not exactly a healthy food choice. Using an ice cream maker you can reduce the sugar and fat content and add healthy alternatives like fresh fruit and even extra calcium, as well as choosing organic ingredients for extra health benefits.
- You Can Be Sure Of How Fresh It Is
Shop bought ice cream could be months old, or older. With an ice cream maker you can be sure there are no added preservatives or other additives which are usually a part of shop bought ice cream.
- Less Labour Intensive
It is possible to make a passable ice cream without using an ice cream maker. But it takes a lot of hard work. An ice cream maker will do most of that hard work for you in around 30 minutes. While you relax and look forward to that delicious ice cream.
- It’s A Fun Way To Get Kids Involved In The Kitchen
Getting the kids to help you in the kitchen can be hard work, once they hear it’s making ice cream you want help with, it’ll be a different story. There are loads of great recipes and part of the fun is choosing one. Or they could invent their own particular flavours. With the added result of getting fresh homemade ice cream at the end of their labours.
What Are The Disadvantages Of An Ice Cream Maker?
- They Tend To Be An Expensive Appliance
The best ice cream makers tend to cost a considerable amount of money for what is after all a non necessity when it comes to kitchen appliances. There are inexpensive versions, but those with a freezer compressor are not cheap.
- Ice Cream Makers Can Be Seen As An Inconvenience
While many people see choosing your own ingredients and spending ½ hour of your day making ice cream along with your kids as great fun, there are those that would say it’s an inconvenience and you can just pick up some ice cream at the store with far less fuss.
- They Take Up Lots Of Space In The Kitchen
Either in the cupboard or on the countertop, many ice cream makers are large, bulky appliances that could be an appliance too far in many kitchens.
Ice Cream Maker Buyers Guide
Ice cream is a popular dessert choice which is why many of us eat ice cream all year round. If you’re sold on the idea of an ice cream maker here are a few pointers on what to look out for when buying one.
Type Of Ice Cream Maker
As we said earlier, there are two main types which are the freeze first type or the self freezing type. The self freeze type has a freezer compressor, is large and bulky and is expensive.
The freeze first type is relatively inexpensive but you’ll need around 8 hours or so for the bowl to reach the desired temperature before you can make ice cream. This means you’ll either need to plan ahead or always have the bowl taking up room in your freezer.
The majority of ice cream makers have a 1.5 litre capacity but there are 2 litre models available for those of you that would like to make a large batch.
Check the warranty on the ice cream maker (compressor types) as these machines are pretty expensive and will not be cheap to repair if anything goes wrong.
Keep Cool Function
The machines with freezer compressors all have some sort of keep cool function. Check how long they will keep the ice cream cool for. As this allows you to be getting on with something else for up to an hour before having to either dish the ice cream up or put it in the freezer for later.
Some models allow you to choose between softer ice cream or harder mixtures for many different desserts. This can be handy if you decide to use your ice cream maker for making drinks or adding ice cream to special desserts etc.
How Much Do Ice Cream Makers Cost?
To help you make your mind up which type of ice cream maker is best for you and your family, here are the average prices of both types of appliance.
Freeze First Ice Cream Makers
These tend to start at around £25 and rise to £120 depending on make, model and capacity.
Self Freezing Ice Cream Makers
These tend to start at around £140 and rise to £1400 depending on make, model and capacity.
Frequently Asked Questions
The kind of ice cream maker that is the best depends on whether you prefer to save money and wait up to 24 hours for the bowl to reach the correct temperature in a freeze-first ice cream maker. Or you’d prefer the convenience of an ice cream maker with a builtin freezer compressor which takes far less time to make ice cream but costs considerably more to buy.
Homemade ice cream is better for you because you have complete control on the ingredients. Which means you can make a much healthier ice cream than you could buy in the shops.
You can use milk instead of cream to make ice cream, especially if you have an ice cream maker which takes all of the hard work out of it for you.